Written by Daniel Offner Friday, 09 May 2014 00:00
To prepare for the upcoming school elections, the Levittown School District, on May 1, held a “meet the candidates” forum, where members of the voting public were given a chance to ask questions from each of the five candidates in the race.
The event highlighted several hot-button issues, including the school’s financial planning, the implementation of the common core learning standards, transportation, and the gap elimination adjustment.
Challenger Marian Adrian, a 1991 Division Avenue High School graduate, opened the forum with some concerns regarding the district’s proposed spending plan for 2014-2015 and its projections over the next five years.
“I am concerned that we plan on dipping into reserves for the next five years until it’s depleted,” said Adrian.
Incumbent Michael Pappas, when asked about the district’s fate and how it is tied to the gap elimination adjustment, echoed Adrian’s concerns about spending out of the district’s reserve funds.
According to Pappas, Levittown school district has spent close to $30 million between the 2009-2010 school year to the present on the Gap Elimination Adjustment.
“It’s only a matter of time before you’re going to see districts fall,” Pappas said. “We have insulated [the school district’s finances] to push our expiration date to July 1, 2018.”
In order for the school district to use its reserves, voters must pass a referendum to spend out of its savings.
The candidates also addressed New York State’s roll-out of the Common Core Learning Standards assessments, which were first adopted by the New York State Board of Regents in 2010 to assess students in grades 3-8 on the knowledge and skills they must achieve within each grade-level to better prepare themselves for college and careers.
This past year, members of the Levittown Board of Education denounced the implementation of the Common Core assessments by passing a resolution that calls for a reduction in the reliance on standardized testing.
Peter Porrazzo, an incumbent, said that while the board passed a resolution it was not against the principles of the common core but against the implementation and use of data mining to access a student’s personal information.
This year, a large contingent of parents have written in letters to the district telling them they want their kids to “opt out” of taking the state tests. Porrazzo added that while the “opt out” movement has been a vertible lightning rod in the community, that it should be left as a personal decision by the parent.
“But there will be serious consequences for opting out,” Porrazzo said. “[The state] is not going to let this go on forever.”
Karen Smith, a challenger and active member of the PTA, said that while she believes in the essence of the common core, that the implementation was flawed.
“It should be conformed to each child … to fit them,” Smith said.
Frank Ward, a Board of Education incumbent who has decided to run on a ticket with the two newcomers, said that he has two children in the district and that he understands how difficult it is for parents to see their kids struggle with school. However, he added, a candidate must remain impartial to any issue that will affect the community.
Among the duties entrusted to the school board, this year, the district will review several candidates to select a new Superintendent of the Levittown School District. Working with consultants from School Leadership LLC — the same agency that helped find Dr. Grossane — the Levittown Board of
Education is currently going through candidates and anticipates selecting a new superintendent for the 2014-2015 school year at the next board meeting on May 7.
According to Adrian, an ideal candidate would have a clear understanding of what is the best thing for the children of the district. Pappas said that any prospective candidate needs to be a leader. For Porrazzo, a good candidate would have knowledge of every area of the district. Smith said that an ideal superintendent has to have some financial background and a basic understanding of what the community needs. Ward said the above all other aspects, the next superintendent needs to be a thinker.
With time winding down before local voters go to the polls, The Levittown Tribune will continue its coverage leading up to the school district budget/trustee electionson May 20.
Saturday, 30 August 2014 00:00
In response to the county’s fly-by-night decision to remove 176 old oak trees along Seaman’s Neck Road, earlier this month, New York State Sen. Kemp Hannon has issued a letter to Nassau County Department of Public Works Commissioner Shila Shah-Gavnoudias regarding constituents’ concerns with the appearance of the roadway.
In his letter, Hannon asks Commissioner Shah-Gavnoudias if the removal of the trees were under the jurisdiction of LIPA or PSEG.
“If not, I would like to know who made the decision to remove these trees and why,” Hannon states. “I request you review this case and take whatever course of action necessary.”
Wednesday, 27 August 2014 00:00
U.S. Navy Veteran Richard Meyerowitz of Levittown joined the military in 1962, enlisting straight out of high school. While he would never see combat, Meyerowitz served as a boilerman aboard the U.S.S. Dewey amid the United States’ blockade of Cuba.
“They gave us our orders,” Meyerowitz said, “turn any vessels away. If not, blow ‘em out of the water.”
During the blockade, Meyerowitz said he only encountered one ship, which they warned to turn back. Just a kid at the time, Meyerowitz said it didn’t occur to him at the time, how the country could have been on the verge of nuclear war.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
Christopher Joseph of Levittown was recently selected to play on the United States world university hockey team in Italy this year. A 2009 MacArthur High School graduate, Joseph was captain of his high school team for two seasons, leading them to two championships. Joseph would later go on to play junior hockey for New York Apple Core and the New Jersey Rockets junior ‘A’ team.
Joseph’s parents, Hal and Theresa, along with his brother Robert and sister Kristin said they are very proud of Christopher’s accomplishments and are cheering him on as he heads off to Italy.
Thursday, 28 August 2014 00:00
Farmingdale State College had four players named to the 2014 D3baseball.com All-New York Team. Senior outfielder Edward Bergmann of East Meadow, earned First Team honors, while junior shortstop Anthony Alvino of Lindenhurst was named to the Second Team. Junior outfielder Michael Marino of Franklin Square and sophomore pitcher Alex Weingarten of East Rockaway also earned Third Team honors this year.
Bergmann batted a team-leading .421 this season and also led the Rams in hits (53), runs scored (42), doubles (8), on-base percentage (.503), stolen bases (30) and held a perfect fielding percentage. Nationally, Bergmann ranks 4th for stolen bases per game (0.88), 10th in stolen bases, 23rd in both on-base percentage and batting average and 29th in runs scored per game (1.21).